KIEV, September 27. /TASS/. The Minsk format of peace talks to resolve the crisis in eastern Ukraine may be replaced by an alternative one starting next year, Ukrainian political experts said on Saturday.
Andrey Zolotarev, an analyst at the Kiev-based analytical centre Third Sector, told TASS: "After December, we can probably have some other place instead of Minsk." He recalled that a package of measures dubbed "Minsk-2", agreed in Belarus in February, was effective until the end of this year.
Meanwhile, "a game is still under way - who will reveal each other’s violations of the Minsk agreements", Zolotarev said, noting, however, that "a bad peace is better than a good war".
The director of the Information and Analytical Centre Perspektiva, Pavel Rudyakov, expressed a similar view. "The Ukrainian side will ask to replace Minsk with Amsterdam at least," the analyst said, adding that Kiev’s politicians would simply be "more interested in flying there".
Ruslan Bortnik, director of the Ukrainian Institute of Policy Analysis and Management, also pointed to a possible change in the format of negotiations. "If the sides fail to find some sort of a situational compromise, then we should most likely expect a format change and some other place, perhaps Yalta-1 or something else," Bortnik told TASS, adding that a new format could be really aimed at "gradual settlement of the conflict".
Officials in east Ukraine’s self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk earlier highlighted the need to extend the Minsk peace accords for another year. But Kiev was opposed to that proposal.
Irina Gerashchenko, representing Kiev at talks of the Contact Group on the Ukraine crisis, said on Tuesday: "The Minsk agreements should be fulfilled before the end of 2015, and not prolonged for 2016."
The Trilateral Contact Group comprising senior representatives from Russia, Ukraine and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on February 12, 2015, signed a 13-point Complex of Measures to fulfil the September 2014 Minsk agreements.
The Complex of Measures (Minsk-2), earlier agreed in Belarusian capital with leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France, envisaged a ceasefire between Ukrainian government forces and people’s militias starting from February 15.
This was to be followed by withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of military engagement by at least 15 kilometres (9 miles), prisoner release and agreement for international observers to monitor the truce.
Based on September’s stillborn Minsk peace protocol, the deal also laid out a road map for a lasting settlement in Ukraine, including local elections and constitutional reform to give the war-torn eastern regions more autonomy.
Among the terms of the February 12 deal was a commitment to intensify the work of the Contact Group. Four subgroups, tasked with addressing security, political, economic and humanitarian issues, are expected to advance work by the Contact Group in activating elements of the Minsk deal.